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Regions Bank v. Neighbors

Supreme Court of Alabama

November 14, 2014

Regions Bank
v.
Jerry Wayne Neighbors

Released for Publication July 22, 2015.

Appeal from Montgomery Circuit Court. (CV-13-901459). Eugene W. Reese, Trial Judge.

REVERSED AND REMANDED.

For Appellant: Charles B. Paterson, Clark A. Cooper, Balch & Bingham LLP, Birmingham; G. Lane Knight, Balch & Bingham LLP, Montgomery.

For Appellee: Roger K. Fuston, Fuston, Petway & French, LLP, Birmingham; Randall K. Bozeman, Bozeman & Bozeman, P.C., Hayneville.

BRYAN, Justice. Stuart, Bolin, Parker, Main, and Wise, JJ., concur. Shaw, J., concurs in the result. Moore, C.J., and Murdock, J., dissent.

OPINION

BRYAN, Justice.

Regions Bank (" Regions" ) appeals from an order denying its motion to compel arbitration. We reverse and remand.

In 1999, Jerry Wayne Neighbors obtained from Union Planters Bank a loan in the amount of $64,100, which was secured by a mortgage on real property owned by Neighbors and his then wife. Regions is the successor in interest to Union Planters Bank. As part of the loan transaction, Neighbors executed a dispute-resolution

Page 2

agreement (" the DRA" ), which provides, in pertinent part: " Borrower and Lender irrevocably agree to settle all disputes between them ... by negotiation, mediation, and arbitration ...." The DRA further provides that " 'disputes' means all past, present, and future disagreements, controversies, claims, and counterclaims between Borrower and Lender and includes without limitation all matters relating to this Agreement, any extension of credit, any tort, any insurance, any service, or any product." The DRA also states: " Borrower and Lender intend for this Agreement to cover the broadest range of disputes and legal issues that may be arbitrated under federal law. Borrower and Lender agree that any questions as to the scope of this Agreement shall be determined by the arbitrator (including, without limitation all issues of formation, consideration, capacity, fairness, unconscionability, mutuality, duress, fraud, adhesion, arbitrability, revocability, and waiver)."

In 2008, a loan-modification agreement was executed, purportedly amending the mortgage. Neighbors denies that he signed the loan-modification agreement; he claims that his signature on that document was forged. The loan-modification agreement also contains an arbitration provision.

In 2013, Neighbors sued Regions, alleging that Regions had negligently and wantonly allowed an imposter to forge Neighbors's signature on the loan-modification agreement. Relying on the DRA, Regions moved to compel the arbitration of Neighbors's claims.[1] Neighbors opposed the motion to compel arbitration. Following a hearing, the trial court denied the motion to compel, without stating a reason. Regions appealed pursuant to Rule 4(d), ...


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